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Great Swindle, The

Published 1948

Harassed by shortages, Tom Grey votes for the removal of price control after reading propaganda issued by the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM). When prices rise, he views a Union film, "The Big Squeeze," which places the blame for high prices on monopoly control of our economy, and points out the advantages of membership in the Union.

Membership recruiting film for UERMWA, CIO (also known as the UE), presenting the viewpoint that there is a need for rollback in prices, higher wages and participation of the worker in politics.

14:01:17:04 CU hand punching in 65 cents on cash register.

14:01:22:04 Great credit sequence: CU National brand cash register rings up “Cash .65”; “Cash .97”; CU Cash 1.26”; then credits ring up on register; “The UE presents”, “Great Swindle”…

14:02:29:23 Man behind market counter selling woman butter:
“I am sorry madam only half a pound per customer, that will be 25 cents.”
“But couldn’t you”
“I am sorry its share and share alike”
“We do have a fine margarine at only 24 center per pound”
“Oh margarine, hm! Those price controls.”

14:02:49:13 CU man with moustache in grocery store takes a pull on his pipe.

14:02:53:07 Tall man at the butcher counter complains to short butcher:
“Is that all you got, hamburger?”
“First class grade, only 27 cents a pound.”
“I don’t care what it costs, I want a good steak.”

14:03:04:27 CU butcher with shelf stocked with French’s mustard behind him:
“I don’t see how it will make the cows breed any faster.”

14:03:08:10 CU man with stern look suddenly smiles and takes a pull from his pipe, then scrunches his face in pensive pose holding his pipe in his mouth.

14:04:01:05 Two men arguing on the street about OPA price controls; man with groceries smoking a pipe stops between them and listens for a moment.
“You're wrong”
“No you're wrong”
“Look it’s simple, the more you produce, the more you buy, production goes up, prices come down.”
“But suppose the manufacturer doesn’t let the prices come down”
“He’s got to”
“He’s got to my foot.”
“you wait and see”
“you wait and see!”

14:04:21:19 VS CU man walking with groceries hears both sides of OPA price control debate in his head and jerks his head back and forth between arguments. “No!” he violently jerks his head to one side, “Yes!” he jerks his head to the other until he put his hand over his face and looks straight into the camera.

14:04:54:14 VS men getting haircuts in barbershop talking politics, debating OPA price controls.

14:05:39:05 VS MS man sitting barbershop waiting chair; man out of frame heard on audio track “Young man, you sound just like a Red”; man speaking sitting in barber chair strikes his newspaper “These are the men that know what they are talking about,” then tosses his paper aside. CU newspaper headline “The Future with Confidence.”

14:06:05:28 Man plays run on violin beside his wife “I got it! Where’s that brother in law of mine?”
“I don’t know he should have been here half an hour ago.”

14:07:42:01 Extreme CU man’s eyes at angle; eyes close as if entering a dream.

14:08:03:27 VS car salesman stands by sign “Special Today (courtesy NAM) $1824.” Man with moustache in hat cockily shakes his head no; salesman peels away number revealing a cheaper price; he shakes no again until car salesman show a card that says “Name Your Price.”

14:08:44:28 CU hand sifting through numbers on paper from stock ticker.

14:08:49:17 CU growing stack of one hundred dollar bills.

14:08:43:05 CU basket of onions with sign showing price markup; other price tags replaced with marked up tags; toast pops out of toaster with 10 cents burned onto it; CU milk bottles; CU toast with 11 cents burned in it; waffle maker opens to waffle with 25 cent label on it; candy marked up; milk marked up; tilted camera angle cash register reads 1.60 camera turns to tilt in other direction and register reads 2.10; CU toast with 13 cents burned into it.

14:11:00:17 CU hand flips on film projector. VS projection on screen and CU two men in audience watching. One man nudges the other and points to screen confidently while the other looks on ambivalently. Projection on screen reads “UE Presents The big Squeeze: monopolies profit.”

14:11:26:17 CU newspaper headline in The News “Hitler Marches.”

14:11:49:09 Graph in film within film shows prices rising from 1939 onward until Uncle Sam’s hand with stars around his cuff enters graph and holds down the prices. Audio track “Uncle Sam established the OPA and cracked down.” After 1946 Uncle Sam’s hand is removed and prices on the chart shoot up.

14:13:43:01 CU newspaper with sentence circled: “Inflation comes when the flow of money into the markets is greater than the flow of goods into the markets.”

14:13:52:07 VS Graphic illustration divided into tow parts Incomes and Production to demonstrate inflation.

14:16:29:02 Illustration shows flashing lightning bolt labeled ‘inflation’ striking a piggy bank labeled ‘savings;’ shot zooms out to reveal that it is a big businessman throwing the inflation lightening bolt; above the big businessman appears a larger godlike hand outlined in white pointing the finger of blame at the businessman.

14:16:50:28 CU government dossiers, publications piling up: “Current Business,” “Federal Reserve Bulletin,” “United States Information and Educational Exchange Act of 1947 H. R. 3342,” “Midyear Economic Report of the President,” “The Marketing and Transportation Situation Dept. of Agriculture.”

14:17:09:25 CU document from the Bureau of Agricultural Economics of the US Dept. of Agriculture entitled “The Marketing and Transportation Situation,” CU Congressional Record from May 6. 1947.

14:17:34:16 Cartoon caricature of Ed Pauly.

14:24:55:22 Line drawing of man in glasses and hat raising his eyebrow at audience beside text: “Who profits from profits?”

14:27:18:23 Animated chart compares General Electric profits in 1933 and 1947. Illustration shows stacks of money on graph.

14:30:49:22 Audience applauding at the end of a film; camera slowly zooms in on two men smoking pipes.

14:31:02:20 Pan up tall building while audio track narrates: “Reaction towers over our daily lives, seemingly all powerful.”

14:31:15:05 VS of crowds of people; audiences cut with CU union signs: Local 201, Local 475 C.I.O Brooklyn, New York, Westinghouse Local 107, DELCO Local 755 UER & MW of A (United Electrical Radio & Machine Workers of America CIO), UER & MW of A CIO Local 455 Newark, NJ.

14:31:49:09 Union protestors picketing with signs about the O.P.A.

14:32:20:22 CU Election Booth sign with arrow; workers waiting in line to vote.

14:32:26:03 VS energetic crowd of people cheering with “Give Us Roosevelt” campaign signs.

14:32:29:08 VS Roosevelt delivering speech with audience behind him; Roosevelt at desk with microphones for press conference.

14:32:58:09 CU locked ballot box with ballots being dropped in slot.

Producer Union Films
Sponsor United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers (UE), CIO
Audio/Visual sound, color


Produced by Carl Aldo Marzani.


Reviewer: Spuzz - - January 25, 2013
Subject: Bull!
At first, one might consider 'The Great Swindle' a great expressionistic work, for the first 10 minutes of this film features a man so confused about people's opinions of why prices are so high that he literally crunches his hand in his face. He then goes home to his son (?), both, curiously, are violinists (they do a duet in one scene). The son complains to Dad that none of this price fixing would go on if everyone was unionized. "Bull!" says the Father. (they say "bull" a lot in this film, oddly). The son figure convinces Dad to go to a Union Meeting. When they get there, they (and we_ see a movie. which is totally amazingly union propagandastic and uses some amazing images (love the mouth on the microphone bit). Although it seems there are two films (literally) here, it's easy to see which one is better put together as the father/son bits are badly edited, poorly lit and has poor dialogue. But still it's an oddball film, some of which (but not all) ring true today.
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